CA vs MBA - A perennial debate that completely misses the point

kartik 
on 05 August 2019


CA vs MBA is a debate that seems to have been around for ages. Members of the CA fraternity fly into indignation if they are told that an MBA dwarfs their qualification. There is an inferiority complex that pervades the CA community, one that makes most of them feel that MBAs are a bunch of good for nothing, elitist dudes who do nothing more than give a power-point presentation. This debate has also been fought from a very myopic perspective of the job profiles and earning capacities of a CA and an MBA. It is stupid and archaic. It is also wrong.

There shouldn't be a CA vs MBA debate in the first place because the first thing one needs to understand is that an MBA is NOT a degree. You don't go to a business school to learn finance or operations or marketing. You go there to learn leadership and manage people. An MBA gets you connections. It builds you a network. It teaches you teamwork. Yes, you may choose to learn finance or marketing as an elective but the essence of an MBA is soft skills, not technical ones.

Most of the world's top CEOs are business school graduates but that is over and above their primary qualification, be it engineering or accounting or law. They honed their technical skills in college with their primary degrees, got corporate experience under their belts and then went on to business schools to set themselves on the path to the corner office. This is not the rule but is generally how it works. 

A CA, on the other hand, is an expert in his chosen field, whether it be accounting, finance, audit or tax. He is however expected to know all of the above. CA is a tough academic course that imbibes in one an ability to understand numbers and laws and standards. It does not purport to teach you management. You have the MBA for that.

Managing people is an art, not a science and an MBA teaches you that art. Technical skills do count for a lot but the tack of managing people is what gets one leadership positions. In the Mahabharat, the commander in chief of the Pandavas was Dhrishtadyumna, Draupadi's brother. He was a fine warrior no doubt but there were others better than him. It was not his fighting skills but his ability to lead those mighty warriors that lent him his title of commander in chief. The greatest strategist of all time, Shri Krishna himself concurred on this.

The debate then shouldn't be so much as to whether an MBA is better than a CA or vice versa. What one should truly try to focus on, as far as the CA fraternity is concerned, is the willingness to learn beyond managing a balance sheet. Whether you do get an MBA to do that is a personal choice but there is no doubt that managing people is an art that every CA and potential CA must learn.  


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